'take'- expressions

Mirto F Santos from Brazil writes:

I don't quite understand the meaning of the expression take for granted. Can you please help me?

Derek from Taiwan writes:
What does this expression mean: take it as it comes?

Roger Woodham replies:
    take something / someone for granted

There are two realisations of this expression, Mirto. In one of them when somebody takes you for granted, they are befitting from your help, without acknowledging it:

  • He just takes me for granted - never any thanks for all the things I do for him.

If you take something for granted, you assume it will happen or is the case without thinking about it:

  • I took it for granted that I would give the opening address at the conference.
  • The things I take for granted in Madrid just do not apply to my life in London.

take it as it comes

If you take things as they come, you take them in sequence or in order with no need to prioritise:

  • You're going to be very busy today - lots of customers. ~ Oh, that doesn't bother us. We'll just take it as it comes.



We noted in another answer (to review that answer click here) that take is one of the most frequently used verbs in the English language. Consequently, there are more than fifty expressions in current use that incorporate the verb take. Here are eight of the more opaque.

take it lying down - submit to insult without protesting, like a dog when cowed

  • She's horrible to you all the time - don't just take it lying down!

take it on the chin - accept a difficult situation without complaining

  • Her criticism was quite justified. He took it on the chin and apologised.

take it out on someone - work off frustration by being unpleasant to someone

  • I know you've had a bad day at work, but don't take it out on me.

take one's breath away - stress that something is extremely beautiful

  • When you get a first glimpse of the Niagara Falls, it takes your breath away.

take one's hat off to - express admiration for someone's achievements.

  • I take my hat off to the police for managing the protest without arresting anyone.

take someone to the cleaners - deprive them of their money or possessions

  • They took me to the cleaners. I went into the casino with £100 and came out £1,000 in debt.

take someone for a ride - trick or deceive them, perhaps for financial gain

  • He's taking you for a ride. Why did you lend him £100? You'll never get it back.

something takes the biscuit - a stupidity that evokes surprise

  • I didn't mind her borrowing my jeans, but stealing me underwear - well, that just about takes the biscuit!


take multi-part verbs

Similarly, there are numerous multi-part verbs where take is combined with a preposition and/or adverbial particle. Some of them have a literal meaning, like take away or take off which are relatively easy to understand:

  • Have you finished with that yet? ~ Yes, I have. Please take it away.
  • I took off my dirty clothes and put them in the laundry basket.

Other examples have an idiomatic meaning where the meaning may not be clear from an understanding of the individual words. These include:

take after - to resemble a family member in appearance, character or behaviour

  • Sylvia has always been a worrier - she takes after her mother in that respect.

take up an activity - become interested in it or start doing it.

  • She took up line dancing after her husband died.

take up on - accept an offer OR challenge someone verbally

Can I take you up on that lift to Manchester? ~ Sure! No problem.
I'd like to take you up on that. I don't agree that cloning is inevitable.

take over - assume management, control or ownership

  • It's possible that the supermarket chain Safeway will be taken over by Sainsbury's.

Note that the verb needed for going past someone is overtake:

  • He overtook me on the brow of the hill - really dangerous driving!

take to - develop a liking for someone or something

  • He's taken to drinking heavily since his wife left him.
  • Tommy has really taken to his new teacher and can't wait to get to school.
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